Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in the eastern town of Beli Manastir on Saturday that the problem of refugees had to be solved in Greece and Turkey, a question which, he said, he would raise at a session of the European Council and which he discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday.
Milanovic said that he discussed the matter with Merkel and that the arrival of new migrants could be prevented by the Greek coast guard but that Greece was not doing it on purpose. Until that is prevented, this sad river of hapless people will not stop and we have to be prepared for it if we do not solve the problem at its source, Milanovic told reporters after touring a refugee reception centre in Beli Manastir with Minister of the Interior Ranko Ostojic.
The PM added that 75-80% of all refugees were arriving via Greece and Turkey.
He said that Hungary's conduct was incomprehensible because none of the refugees wanted to stay in Hungary, adding that the border could be completely sealed only with brutal force, "and even if that were possible under the Constitution - and it is not - it means killing people."
Asked by a reporter if there had been agreement with Hungary at the highest level on yesterday's transport of migrants to Hungary, from where they are transported further to other destinations, Milanovic said, "No, we forced them (Hungarians)". When asked how, he said "By sending the migrants there."
Milanovic added that he had discussed the problem of refugees with Slovenian PM Miro Cerar several times, but that he had not discussed it with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban.
He said that the asylum system under the Dublin Regulation could no longer be applied in the current, completely changed circumstances and that preventive action was required at the source of the problem.
Milanovic said that refugee task forces in Croatia had done their job much better than in some other countries, but noted that in Croatia "there are several task forces for fomenting hysteria" which should not be listened to.
"One should not believe hysteria mongers who want to profit politically from it. That's the ugliest thing I have seen in Croatia since the war," he said.
He said that the refugee crisis is "a humanitarian crisis but not a disaster", reiterating that completely closing the border, without a fence as had been done by Hungary, "is possible only if the army is deployed to the border and shoots at people."
"That is what some wish for. It is physically possible, but impossible in terms of law. One should declare a state of war, or a state of direct threat, and the government should propose it to the parliament. Please do not take this out of context because I am saying this only to illustrate how crazy such proposals are," said Milanovic.
He reiterated that Croatia "will not be a European refugee centre" despite the fact that some northern countries would want it, not only because of Croatia's limited capacity but also because the refugees would riot, so the only way was to let them through in a civilised manner.
Asked if the reception centres in Cepin and Beli Manastir would continue operating, Milanovic said they would in case new migrants arrived.